Salem Police Monitoring and Fining Loud Motorcycles

Police Chief Paul Tucker recently praised the new enforcement effort before City Council.

If you have spent a hefty sum to modify your motorcycle exhaust pipes to get that adrenalin-boosting noise when you take off from a stoplight, beware — the is listening.

“We go out once a week to an intersection like Derby Street. If we can hear a motorcycle several blocks away, it's too loud,” said police Lt. Robert Precszewski, who heads the department's traffic division.

As a result, the police are citing about 50 motorcycle owners a week for altering their exhaust pipes. The fines are $35 for the first offense, $75 for a second offense and $150 for a third offense.

Chief Paul Tucker recently praised the program before the City council as one of the new initiatives to reduce noise in the City.

A district court in Newburyport recently threw out some citations against motorcyclists for excessive noise because the officers did not use decibel meters to register specific noise violations. So now, the officers use their ears only to identify cycles that are probably using after-market exhaust pipes, Precszewski said.

If the officers can hear a motorcycle from blocks away, then they know it's too loud, and they can legally write a citation for a driver for altering their exhaust pipes, Precszewski explained.

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to alter muffler exhaust pipes. The state decibel limit for a stationary bike is 99 decibels (102 for bikes manufactured before 1996). Bikes in motion may not exceed 82 decibels at 45 miles per hour or less or 86 decibels at more than 45 miles per hour.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets noise emissions standards for motorcycles at 80 decibels, which is 10 decibels louder than a car traveling at 40 miles per hour. All motorcycles are required to display two EPA labels — one on the chassis and one on the exhaust pipe.

Rinehart Racing, a major motorcyle muffler after market manufacturer even has a notice on its ebsite advising bike owners that “Rinehart Racing Exhaust systems are not legal for sale or use in states where emissions laws apply.”

The Salem police have long had a campaign against noisy motorcycles. The department issued a brochure three years ago that read: “We all know the mellow baritone exhaust sound for a motorcycle engine can be music to many riders' ears." But the brochure asked that motorcyclists keep the noise down by lowering the engine's RPMs inside the City limits.


What are your thoughts on this issue? This isn't the first time Salem Patch has reported on motorcycles — we were at the Halloween Witch Ride last October.

KlassySalem July 01, 2011 at 04:59 PM
There is a reason that these things are referred to as donor cycles, and it has nothing to do with the loudness of the pipes. Beyond the fact that "loud pipes" don't actually save lives, if you were that concerned with safety you simply wouldn't be riding one at all.
pk July 01, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Loud pipes = Mommy and daddy didn't pay enough attention to me. "Please notice me!" You almost have to feel sorry for them
pk July 01, 2011 at 05:50 PM
If you want the definitive word on the topic (much better than I could put it myself), watch this hilarious episode of South Park: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e12-the-f-word
Kelley July 01, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Sorry Roger I didn't see the part where u said u have a harley!
Kelley July 01, 2011 at 08:04 PM
@ Once again U don't ride, U don't know what it's like riding next to people like u that have no clue we are there, And like I have already said, Some motorcycles are too loud but there are alot of us that don't have extremely loud pipes, just enough so people know we are on the road!!! Seems to me your just quoting other people, u have no clue!!!!
Kelley July 01, 2011 at 08:08 PM
you've been riding for 40 years! Well that explains it!! My lifestye isn't silly, do u know me???? Ya didn't think so, And AGAIN!! You read what u want to, I said there are motorcycles that are way to loud, BUT there are those of us that have motorcycles that are not extremely loud,enough so people know we have a right to the road too!!!
Kelley July 01, 2011 at 08:13 PM
WRONG!!! I have a good friend who almost got hit by an elderly man, because of his pipes he stopped at the last minute, he even said to my friend I am so sorry I Didn't see u but i heard u at the last minute". LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES!!!!!
ernie July 02, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Andy Ford July 02, 2011 at 12:37 AM
Of course, police can stop any motor vehicle when there's a reasonable suspicion that a law is being violated. And if a violation is found, a ticket can be written. When a motorist chooses to challenge a ticket, it doesn't cost a court very much since there's provisions in place for such an appeal. What many loud bikers don't seem to realize is that there's growing anger towards this kind of behavior by the larger, non-riding society and that elected officials as well as law enforcement officials are going to have to address this issue. In reality, solving the problem will prove to be much easier than many currently believe. Easy to enforce laws with significant penalties will succeed in curbing loud riding despite the protests by loud bikers.
Papa Juliet July 02, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Ernie- You're funny. You and your fellow faux-barbarians act like the noise you make is different than all other noise and that we should just accept it. Profiling? That's funny. If I stood outside your home at 3:00AM and practiced yodeling, would that be acceptable? Would I be able to fight that ticket in court because the Officer didn't have "A PROPERLY CALIBRATED STATE APPROVED DECIBLE READER". Why is the noise from a Harley any different? Why is it so special? The answer is: it isn't special. It's just noise pollution. I really don't care what you choose to listen to. I care about what I am forced to listen to. You and your fellow noise-mongers will go away soon. You've blown it with your complete disregard for everyone. Sorry to break the news, but you aren't cool. You are a loud special-interest group that has worn-out their welcome. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/niceandquiet
Mike July 03, 2011 at 02:36 PM
lets go after my neighbors lawn mower and LEafblower next.Can I wear my tin foil hat to the group meeting.
Maggi Smith-Dalton July 03, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Noise pollution has extremely detrimental effects on the human organism. Thank you, Salem Police, for helping to clean up some of the more aggressive motorcycle noise nonsense. It's at least a good start on the motorcycle "dirt," and I wish we could ban the horrid leafblowers too. They are earsplitting as well.
Jared Robinson July 05, 2011 at 01:41 PM
if you're over a certain decibel and they have properly calibrated equipment, you have no leg to stand on. I hear plenty of motorcycles DAILY that exceed 100db at IDLE... The difference between a Harley with a loud exhaust and a Honda with a loud exhaust is that the Harley is LOUDER simply because of the waveform of the soundwave exiting the exhaust (IE it's a bass-like tone). While Hondas are more annoying, their sound signature is actually less because it's more acute. Either way, if you feel the need to have a 100+db motorcycle (or car... or moped) expect a ticket. It's the gamble you take. I personally love the sound of an unmuffled 327... but I know that there's a GOOD chance I'll get a ticket if I'm on it near a cop. Of course, that's what electronic cutouts are for ;)
Jared Robinson July 05, 2011 at 04:59 PM
actually, this is how a majority of riders in Europe do it: they wear high visibility vests over their existing equipment. The problem Americans have with it is that they don't "Look cool" which is the same stupid argument against helmet laws... the only reason they don't want to wear helmets is because it "looks cool" same with loud pipes... are you REALLY installing loud pipes to save lives... or is it just because you think it's "Cool" Install an airhorn then... those are 130db and Stebel makes a Compact Nautilus specifically for motorcycles. I've used it and it works great.
Jared Robinson July 05, 2011 at 05:00 PM
I forgot about those things The first time I saw one I thought the guy's headlight was loose... but it certainly gets my attention (AS LONG AS THE LIGHT DOESN'T GO ABOVE LEGAL HEIGHT AND BLIND ME AT NIGHT!!!)
Jared Robinson July 05, 2011 at 05:05 PM
is the comedic irony that someone defending obnoxiously loud motorcycles is writing in all caps lost on anyone else here?
chester suchecki July 06, 2011 at 01:49 PM
i grew up in the shadow of the power plant right next to fort avenue. you want to talk about noise well the plant was quiet to the street noise. i now live in a building at the cross roads of derby, congress and hawthorne blvd. talk abpout noise. we have trucks busses,cars,police , fire and ambulances going by all day and into the night not to mention foot traffic and the salem trolly.now there is the music at the wharf, the church and almost forgot motorcycles. i am a motorhead at heart and enjoy the sound of a wqell tuned engine but to sit there and rev motors is not necessary. to scream out from a traffic light is not good for the equipment if you want to go fast go to the track where you will truly learn what going fast is. so here is the bottom line, gofast and loud on the street you get caugt and ticketed or worse arrested and just to throw this in KILLED FROM YOUR STUPIDITY !!!!!!! ride on people SAFELY!!!!!
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 01:58 PM
those same jerks that blow down Fort turn right onto East Collins St before blasting down Lathrop or Osborne... like they're trying to avoid Bridge St... it's so unsafe.
chester suchecki July 06, 2011 at 02:35 PM
its not just motorcycles
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 02:43 PM
nope, it's not. it's immature douchebags blasting around in their fart can Hondas too... and the occasional numbskull in a loud SUV or pickup. I nearly got hit by someone the other day doing well over 40 taking the corner from East Collins to Lathrop as I was walking to my car. It was an older man in a new Toyota Camry!!! Why do people SPEED THROUGH MY NEIGHBORHOOD LIKE THIS!
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 02:47 PM
not sure why my previous comment is gone, but: does anyone else find the humor in the fact that this guy is typing in all caps and defending loud motorcycles? Dude, if your bike is louder than 100db... it's illegal. Get over it. You're not cool. If you want to be noticed on the highway, install a Stebel Nautilus horn on your bike. It's $35 and they're 135db @ 6feet and 120 at 15feet... someone getting on top of you on the highway? HONK! There's no need to be 'heard' when you're driving around on single lane carriageways around Salem... there's almost no multilane carriageways in Salem. Or install electronic cutouts that you only use on the highway... Also, if you read the import car forums, all their posts are "I got ticketed for a loud exhaust again today... HOW COME THEY DON'T TICKET HARLEY RIDERS!?"
shareef July 06, 2011 at 06:26 PM
Everybody stops LOUD MOTORCYCLES....why don't you stop those who manufacture these loud mufflers? I personally like powerful motorcycling but being a music lover, I really hate 'NOISE'. Loud motorcycling has become a 'must' part of a big majority of motorcyclists. Unfortunately, it's addiction. We need a collective effort to stop it.
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 06:48 PM
I wouldn't go that far... some people make their own pipes anyway. Most of the ones sold out there specifically say "For Off Road Use Only!" On top of that, each state has a varying decibel limit too. And some people buy 'legal pipes' and then remove baffling inside to make it louder. The thing that bothers me the most is the 'stop sign revvers'... what are you doing!? Most of these 'revvers' aren't even riding motorcycles that need that kind of regulation. Older motorcycles you would rev at a stop because they idle like crap and would occasionally stall (a major factor in the single pin cranks that produce the Harley sound). This is 100% alleviated with the introduction of fuel injection... and, if you bought a fuel injected bike and turned it into a carburetted bike, you've know broken an EPA regulation... Fuel injection is part of the emissions system. I think some Harleys made between 1995 and 2003 had the option of fuel injection, every Harley between 2004 and 2006 had the option and every one after 2007 comes with it standard. So, you're not revving to blow out gas... you're just being a jerk.
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 06:54 PM
And the Harley riders cried foul when they started putting EFI on their bikes by the way: http://www.nightrider.com/biketech/motorcycle_efi_basics.htm And the only thing that carbs did was make noise... and the average backyard tinkerer could fix it with nothing but a screwdriver and spanner. But above all, the change to EFI had them running better, achieving better fuel efficiency and reduced the pollution they caused... it also remedied the NEED to rev the engine (which was normally caused by a poorly tuned carburettor or someone who didn't ride their bike frequently enough to blow deposits out of them.)
Jared Robinson July 06, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Oh yeah, one other thing about the stop light revvers: the main reason they did this aside from a poorly tuned carburetter was because most of them had installed louder exhaust and the decrease in exhaust back pressure lead to an overly rich idle characteristic (IE the carb was dumping too much fuel in the engine). So revving it would burn all that fuel off so that it wouldn't stall when the light turned green... but, as I said, the need to do that is no more. EFI compensates for that.
Bobby Caprarella July 08, 2011 at 08:03 PM
Jared Robinson July 08, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Your caps lock is on.
gerry alden July 08, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Rick Holtsclaw should sound in here. It is highly unlikely any of the 50 motorcyclists per week who are cited for Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Section 90, Section 16 will pay fines from convictions. It is very likely the Judge will order the Salem Chief to not write anymore tickets for Section 16 violations without sound tests. The Chief may be the person ending up paying a fine for non-compliance of the law, regardless of the overwhelming public support. The reason this attempt to enforce a noise control traffic code will fail the public is because MA law has placed the burden of proof on law enforcement to find "levels" instead of defining prohibited "Acts" to raise standard volumes on low-noise-exhaust-emission regulated products. Mass citizens must legislate to institutionalize the burden on the defendant to provide evidence their modifications have not allowed a standard volume rise to reverse a citation for obviously operating a low-noise-exhaust-emission regulated product with standard volumes raised as a result of any visually apparent noise control alteration. The Appendix A.3 Comparison Measurement procedure in the SAE Motorcycle Sound Measurement Enforcement Test will provide the preponderance of the evidence that a volume is/is not raised when two exhaust on a standard motorcycle is measured at any same rpm. No pre-set numerical decibel pass/fail value is used in Appendix A.3 Comparison Measurement. This type of simple, uncomplicated test to determine excessive noise operation, is vital for all the differently set total noise outputs across the original highway motorcycle products introduced into commerce meeting or exceeding EPA noise-compliance. This procedure allows any perceived use of excessive noise during enforcement efforts of a noise control law, to be used as reasonable cause to order an in-field examination, and the physical-visual evidence of the known properties of the devices can be used as reasonable doubt about the performance characteristics to cite a charge. The way the law is now written, the police may not charge for altering exhaust that leads to excessive noise levels, when no increase levels are determined by a certified testing procedure. A conviction may not be obtained if there is no evidence of the "levels" of excessive sound as a result of the original exhaust system modifications. This is why chasing "levels" fails enforcement efforts, and why finding illicit "Acts" to raise volumes is a pure way to deter this common behavior. If the author of this article did not make so many factual errors in explaining motorcycle noise control laws, and enforcement procedures, I would of taken his bait that Salem Police are serious about removing the din. This author is neither knowledgable or educated in this issue. Salem Police will not impact the excessive noise culture, with the tools they have at hand.
Larry Deal July 10, 2013 at 01:54 PM
The illicit acts that are the root cause of those ear splitting motorcycles that can be heard a block way is the use use of exhaust systems that are ineffective in preventing excessive and unusual exhaust noise. That is called "tampering", and that is illegal. That is what the Salem PD is targeting, and rightly so. That is what the loud pipe crowd and their apologists, the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, is trying to prevent from being targeted, and wrongly so. The insistence by the motorcycle 'rights' organizations that tampering should not targeted for enforcement, but be permitted to continue unabated, and that the police be limited only to having to conduct sound testing after the fact as their only enforcement option, is a ploy to misdirect the state away from the root cause of the motorcycle noise problem and inhibit it's ability to effectively deal with the problem that the motorcycle community is causing. The motorcycle community blames everyone else but themselves when it come to the problem they are the cause of. They even admit it when they invoke the LPSL myth and claim it is their "right" to violate the laws, including the federal one they despise the most, in their obviously invalid and irrational attempt to justify their ear splitting noise and blatant disregard of the rule of law, not to mention the legitimate rights of the vast majority of the public, when they rumble into town and defiantly rap the throttles of their illegally equipped motorcycles. The state's public officials need to wake up to these facts and target the right bulls eye, and you need to wake them up and get them into action. If you don't, the motorcycle 'rights' lobby will keep them asleep and inert, and those illegal ear splitting loud pipes will be plaguing you indefinitely.
gerry alden July 11, 2013 at 03:25 PM
The root cause of this problem is not isolated to cycle enthusiasts enjoying customizations. The EPA, or better, those administrators and authors of the federal code, who created total sound limits, beyond what customers of these products wished for, are guilty as well. Our tort system for ease of lawsuit liability is to blame, because manufacturers purposely build a quieter product then needed to meet the federal standard to avoid large fines, recalls and lawsuits. The local jurisdictions lacking due diligence to create enforceable laws, and provide effective police tools and methods are as well to blame. The biggest culprit in my opinion is the anti-noise pressure group member, who lobbies for strict motorcycle noise control laws, while never having been a rider, or owned a bike, and after reading misinformation provided by NoiseOff and Richard Tur via online websites. (everything on the web is true right?), becomes the local noise control false prophet via a CALM website, gaining the ear of liberal press outlets, pushing codes that accelerate the issue instead of diminishing it (they also prohibit any voice that strongly offers viable solutions when that voice resists the hidden agenda to create a national "match-up" law). North Hampton NH and the new J-2825 law as a result of hasty action to avoid a "label match-up law state", is a great example. Now 100% of all NH defendants can claim significant noise level increases with their modifications without being found guilty. The lack of leadership from the federal gov. the AMA (afraid to distance themselves from its membership base), the local and state vehicle code administrators, and public safety officers is appalling. Yes, it is easy to blame the person who swaps out one device for the other, with the result of raising a standard volume and openly operate on a public way. But why do they need to do so, why can't the codes be easily followed, and why does enforcement look the other way. All of my examples are meaningful components to this complex issue. It will not, can not be resolved until the past wrongs are righted, and everyone works toward a viable solution. This is why my idea for Comparison Measurement is key to rid the din in our soundscape. Appendix A.3 of SAE J1287 is the core base to remove all of the obstacles in preventing excessive and unusual motorcycle noise . I am absolutely sure Richard Tur was 100% wrong in his assessment of this problem, and what it's solution is. His disciples are to blame for increasing the problem.


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